THE RISE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS HERO: JIMMY PORTER
Twentieth century witnessed the coming of age of a new kind of hero- the middle class hero. The rise of the middle class hero is not an isolated event. Instead it is the culmination of a centuries long process. At each successive stage a minor subversion of the nature of the hero took place culminating in the new hero who can with some qualification be called the anti-hero. The qualification being that anti here is not a negative quality, which traditional meaning would render the anti-hero a villain. Rather, it is a hero but with a new definition of what a hero means.
In 1956, John Osborne an English dramatist wrote "Look Back In Anger". The play was a phenomenal success and its protagonist Jimmy Porter is a perfect example of the new middle class hero. Jimmy is never heroic in traditional mould of theatre heroes.
For a start his background is not noble. He is, as he states with pride from the working class. Apart from this there is no reference to his parents or his childhood. Clearly there was nothing unusual about it. There were no deeds of great valour or of a distinguishing nature.
The play opens in JP's one room abode and the entire play remains in it. There is no physical journey being undertaken which is marked by the overcoming of obstacles and eventual success of the quest. Furthermore, there is no unique characteristic, which can be identified as the Fatal Flaw or Hubris in the Aristotelian sense. Just as there is no traditional villain whom Jimmy Porter must vanquish in order to restore harmony to world and therefore fulfill his heroic job. Ultimately, "Look Back In Anger" very calculatedly distances itself from a tragedy. In...